BRATTLEBORO -- Buddy Hayford has really enjoyed his 31 years of coaching varsity boys soccer in Wilmington. In fact, he said that traveling to all of the away games is the only part of the job that he isn’t exactly thrilled about.

But he probably won’t mind going to Philadelphia next month.

Hayford, who guided the Twin Valley Wildcats to a 17-0 season and the Division 4 championship this fall, was recently named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Small School National Coach of the Year -- an award he will accept in the City of Brotherly Love in mid January.

"I’m totally honored. It’s a thrill. It really hasn’t sunk in yet," said Hayford of the award. "Coaching soccer is a passion of mine. I’m proud of my guys. The boys were just as responsible for the undefeated season as I was."

Hayford was first chosen as the Vermont Small School Coach of the Year, then he was named the Region 1 winner, and eventually earned the National award.

But was there ever a question? His team went undefeated, posted 16 shutouts in 17 total games, and outscored their opposition by a combined 92-1 on their way to the D-4 crown.

"It’s one of those once in a lifetime feats. I’m elated for Twin Valley High School, the community and Vermont," added the NSCAA award winner. "I’ll share this award with my family and all of the players that ever played for me. I have gotten tremendous support from my wife and my two children along the way."

Hayford’s career stats as a varsity boys soccer coach speak for themselves. His 346-135-23 record ties him with legendary Arlington coach John Werner for most wins ever in the Green Mountain State. This was his third time being named the Vermont Coach of the Year and he is a four-time Marble Valley League Coach of the Year, while his teams have won six MVL titles and seven state crowns.

"My team did tremendously well this season. And they did it the right way," said Hayford.

Notes: Hayford graduated from Wilmington High School in 1975 and from Lyndon State College in 1979. He was a three-sport athlete in high school and played soccer for LSC. He has been the Athletic Director in Wilmington for 26 years.

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.